Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw are not really brothers, but the summertime bash they held at Soldier Field Saturday felt like the craziest family party imaginable. With more than 50,000 rowdy relatives filling the stands, the pair of country megastars combined for nearly four hours of entertainment.
The elder Brother of the Sun, Tim McGraw, rocked the stage first with “Felt Good On My Lips.” In his recognizable black cowboy hat and all-white wardrobe, his smile beamed from his bronzed face as he pounded his chest with pride.
He rolled through early hits “For A Little While,” “Down On the Farm,” and “Real Good Man” before jumping into his 2007 feel-good sing-along “Last Dollar (Fly Away).” The crowd belted out almost every word as he continued the long line of classics with “Where the Green Grass Grows.”
(Check out ALL the photos from the show, including Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Jake Owen, Grace Potter, and more!)
McGraw mixed in a new tune, “Mexicoma,” and pleased the crowd with recent single “Better Than I Used to Be.” The taste of more modern tracks did not last long, though. He traveled back to when a hoe was a hoe and coke was a Coke with “Back When.”
The list of sing-alongs increased with fan-favorite “Something Like That” and the prideful “Southern Voice.” As McGraw performed the latter with a guitar strapped on, the crowd showered him with appreciation for his inclusion of Chicago in the lyric “Michael Jordan dunked it.”
However, the song that received the most significant reaction was “Live Like You Were Dying.” The raw emotion in McGraw’s eyes and the intense passion in his voice created a deeply moving moment. The meaningful chorus resonated throughout the stadium as everyone echoed the bittersweet words.
McGraw left the stage to a standing ovation but soon returned for an encore. After soulfully crooning “The Cowboy In Me” and dancing about the stage with “I Like It, I Love It,” he closed with his head-banging current single “Truck Yeah.” He proved that after almost 20 years of hit making, he’s still going strong. The same can be said for Kenny Chesney.
Soldier Field may not house the beaches of the Bahamas or the crystal blue waters of Cabo, but Kenny Chesney sure made the home of the Bears feel like the hottest vacation destination on the planet. From the instant he appeared on the mini-stage positioned at the 50-yardline, he transported the crowd to an island getaway with “Beer In Mexico.”
In his usual cutoff football t-shirt, faded blue jeans, and straw cowboy hat, he floated above the floor seats to the main stage. Once there, the party theme surged on as he relived college in “Keg In the Closet” and depicted the ideal summer in “Summertime.” He then encouraged fans to escape their everyday lives with “Reality.” And breaking free from reality is exactly what he helped people in attendance do.
The next song went hand-in-hand with the crowd, according to Chesney. On a steamy July night, his opinion surely made sense as he laid out the ground rules of beach living in “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem.”
The laidback nature of the show took on a more sentimental mood when Chesney remarked, “Music is the single most powerful thing we have in our lives, period.” He went on to reminisce about his youth in “I Go Back.”
He smoothly transitioned into current single “Come Over” by explaining the meaning behind the hit: “Hold on to what is good and let go of everything else.” The contagious chorus had many singing their hearts out in hopes that Chesney would, in fact, come over.
Minutes later, the stadium seats evolved into rocking chairs in the sand as Chesney played “Old Blue Chair” with just his acoustic guitar. The stripped-down version gave fans a taste of his early days of performing in a Mexican restaurant for tips and all the enchiladas he could eat.
As if Chicago wasn’t already enamored with Chesney, he customized a video montage to include scenes of the Windy City as he sang “Back Where I Come From.” Cheers rang through the crowd as logos of the city’s sports teams flashed on screen, causing a shouting match between the baseball crosstown rivals.
Chesney carried on with some of his biggest hits “Living In Fast Forward,” “Young,” “Somewhere With You,” and “Never Wanted Nothing More.”
He then told the crowd he was going to turn Soldier Field into a bar. With performances of Van Halen’s “You Really Got Me” and Violent Femmes’ “Blister In the Sun,” Chesney’s band briefly became a cover band.
After a short departure from his own music, Chesney dove right back into his ocean of popular tunes. He followed with “Out Last Night” and “When the Sun Goes Down,” which were both fitting for the night.
“The Boys of Fall” was also fitting, considering the venue. It may be midsummer with football still months away, but no one was thinking about the season as images of iconic football stars and Chesney’s days as a player surfaced on screen. Being in Soldier Field added to the song’s sentiment, making it the perfect ending to the set.
But Kenny wasn’t done. And neither was Tim. The two reappeared for their duet “Feel Like a Rock Star.” McGraw surprised the audience as he rose onto the same mini-stage Chesney began on. He walked through the fans on the floor to join his friend of 21 years on the main stage. The two joked around like brothers and displayed a captivating on-stage chemistry.
McGraw stuck around to help Chesney with “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” and Chesney returned the favor by adding vocals on McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw.” For the finale, Jake Owen joined the fun as the three rocked out to “Running On Empty.”
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw are not only Brothers of the Sun, but they are also two of the best in country music. Some believe they are best friends. Others think of them as brothers. After their show at Soldier Field, they should be regarded as legends.
Review by Kelly O’Brien, Summer 2012 Marketing/Promotions Department Intern at US99.5, and a journalism major at Bradley University.